Monika Tsia

B. Sc. (Kinesiology, Biology), 2006.

Current Occupation: Clinical Exercise Specialist (CES) at Cardiac Rehabilitation and Prevention, Fraser Health Authority, Jim Pattison Outpatient and Surgery Centre (JPOCSC)

What are your work responsibilities?

I provide exercise prescription and education for prevention and management of chronic disease.  I work with a range of individuals living with cardiovascular, pulmonary, metabolic syndrome, and/or musculoskeletal limitations. I work collaboratively in an interdisciplinary team to develop and implement exercise programs for clients and monitor their progression. As a CES, I provide education and healthy lifestyle consultations to support individuals towards their goals and to empower them in making informed healthy choices. 

How did you become interested in your field?

When I was in my first year, I worked at a gym as a fitness trainer. I enjoyed working with people and motivating them to reach their goals. Since then, health and wellness has been a strong interest of mine. Furthermore, I have always enjoyed the kinesiology courses I took and knew I wanted to work in a related field where there is ongoing learning of the latest research and new developments.  

What led you to this position?

In 2002, I incidentally passed by a cardiac rehab program at a local community centre. I was intrigued and approached the program CES to inquire more. He later became my mentor and opened my eyes to the field of clinical exercise therapy. I immediately became a student volunteer and continued to volunteer while I completed my degree with SFU and my CES certification with American College of Sports Medicine. Shortly after graduation, I was hired on as an exercise specialist with Fraser Health.

What do you enjoy most about your current career position?

In my career, I enjoy seeing clients progress through their challenges and achieve their health goals.  Furthermore, I value working within an interdisciplinary team consisting of caring, positive and knowledgeable professionals.

What have been the biggest challenges in your career?

I work in a rotating schedule which requires availability to work days, evenings, and occasional weekends.  Since my schedule differed each week, it can be challenging to plan my personal life and make commitments to ongoing events.

What were the keys to your success in overcoming these challenges?

I plan in advance and coordinate with my colleagues to ensure that there is enough coverage for the programs and clinics I am involved with. In addition, my family and friends are understanding and flexible with their schedule. 

Why did you choose Simon Fraser University and BPK to pursue your education?

SFU is recognized to have an excellent Kinesiology program. It is also a bonus to attend a university that is located on top of a mountain with amazing views.

What were the major challenges that you faced during your studies at SFU and BPK?

Reflecting back, I took on a lot more than I probably should have. It was challenging trying to juggle full time courses, part time jobs, volunteering, club involvement and a personal life.

How did your education at SFU and BPK influence your career?

I enjoyed the courses I took at SFU. The materials I learnt were directly applicable in helping me achieve my own health and wellness goals. I felt I could use this knowledge to pursue a career in which I can help enable others to do the same.

What is your favorite memory from your time at the university and the department?

It may not seem like it then, but one of my favorite memories would be group studies. We would make up silly songs to help us study and understand the materials for final exams. My other favorite memory would be having tutorials outside by the pond under the academic quadrangle on a fresh sunny day and having lunch at the same time. 

Who do you think make a difference at SFU or BPK, or who do you remember the most from the department?

I came across a lot of excellent professors during my time at SFU. I thoroughly enjoyed the KIN (now BPK) 142 course taught by Craig Asmundson. He was engaging and was passionate about the materials he taught. It seemed like he genuinely enjoyed and had fun teaching.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments (both personally and professionally)?

My greatest personal accomplishment would be giving birth to my newborn son, Jacob. It was the hardest work out I had ever performed and he is the best reward I had ever received. My greatest professional accomplishment would be that I was offered the lead CES position at the newly built JPOCSC. With this, I have the opportunity to be currently involved with the development and standardization of the regional cardiac rehab program.

What advice would you give to current students at BPK?

My advice would be to take advantage of the opportunities to explore different career choices. This is a wonderful time to enjoy, discover, and evaluate what you really want. In addition, take time to network and build relationships. There are much to learn from every individual you meet and the connections you make.